November 12, 2003
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by Contributing Editor Jennifer Nastu
For years, David Rogers worked as an online marketing consultant
for a wide variety of clients from industrial manufacturers, to
CDNow, and 1-800-Flowers.
Now, through "no grand master plan -- it was all opportunities
that sort of popped up," Rogers wound up on the client-side,
working as Brooks Brothers' in-house Affiliate Marketing
We asked Rogers what Net consultants considering a career change
can expect from a client-side position.
-> When you're the lone expert, client-side feels
Rogers researched a number of different creative agencies and
saw, "a lot of neat stuff going on," he says. But he wasn't sure
he wanted to go that route…
"I met with the senior VP of Saatchi & Saatchi, a family friend,
and he said, 'You're never going to be happy working for someone
else,'" Rogers says.
He chose to work for a big company like Brooks Brothers because
"even though you have to check in and check out, you're sort of
in control of your own business," he says. "It's like working for
In part, that's because even big companies often have only one
Internet marketing person. So while you can be pretty
independent, you also have nobody to fall back on, which means
you need to know a little bit of everything.
"You become your own one-person shop," Rogers says. "You have to
know HTML, the difference between a gif and a jpeg, the latest
developments in search engine marketing."
On the other hand if there's no team, there's no teamwork. "I
miss the Marines because of the camaraderie -- you know, you had
to complete the mission," says Rogers. "I see agencies as sort of
the same mindset… here's the goal and we all have to work
It's not like that in a company like Brooks Brothers where
there's really no Internet team.
-> Fitting Net marketing into traditional corporate culture
o As perhaps the only advocate of online marketing, you have to
upsell your ideas to people who may not be ready to hear them. At
the same time, sometimes you're dealing with unrealistic
expectations, so you may have to downsell ideas, too.
For example, if your boss goes to a conference and hears about a
terrific new online initiative, you may be approached with, "Hey,
this doesn't cost anything, why aren't we doing this?"
You need to be able to downsell the idea without actually saying,
"Sure, give me 30 hours of IT time and some new software…"
Other times, your job is simply to inform, and sometimes you have
to take some blame. "Maybe not often," Rogers says, "but if
you're not getting in trouble occasionally, you're probably not
pushing the envelope."
o The hours are good. As a consultant, says Rogers, "You have to
deliver and if you don't the client is going to freak. Here, you
have a more holistic view, the world doesn't end. You know there
are times when you have to pull things together, but it's not a
In fact, he says, he mostly works 8:30 to 5:30.
o You can't get hung up on titles. "Your job is not defined by
your title but by your responsibilities," Rogers says. "Focus on
the scope of the position, not the title, because you'll get
upset. You could have a coordinator title at a 100-year-old
publishing company and that could be equal to the title of
director at another company."
o It's easy to fall off the cutting edge if you're reporting to
people who don't know much about online marketing. "You can get
comfortable in your job because the people that you're delivering
to see this as all new," he says. "So something that's 12 months
old to one of us might be brand new to them. It's a comfort
-> The budget battle
The days of passionate battles about the budget are over, Rogers
says. Instead, Internet marketers have to prove themselves with
"You sell yourself every week when you turn in your reports," he
says. "Battles about the budget won't necessarily result in
anything. Instead, it's showing the numbers and saying, 'Here's
where the ROI is.'"
In the meantime, "You find ways to do what you can with what you
-> How to land a client-side position
If you're considering moving to a client-side, you need to know
present a targeted plan. Learn quickly what information
prospective employers need (not always what they say they need)
and narrow it down to a couple of data points.
"That's how you demonstrate your value," says Rogers. "You
separate the wheat from the chaff."
Try to avoid becoming too narrowly focused on one specific aspect
of the market. "Hobnob with your pals in other groups," he says.
"To come in and be able to do a spreadsheet and analysis and then
10 minutes later be able to go do a creative brief is key."
And you'd better have had the chance during a previous job to
hone your all-around Internet marketing skills. "On client-side,
we're not teaching those skills," Rogers says. "You have to bring
them with you."
-> A final word
Switching to a client-side career may be disconcerting for the
established consultant. "You can be in a room that's just hostile
to your discipline," Rogers says. "You're really an island once
you come client-side."
Still, after a long stint as a consultant when you've worked
harder than you would anywhere else, switching to client-side
just may be worth it. Why would you do that, just when you're
"I've heard it called cashing in your chips," says Rogers.
FYI: Rogers' contact information for you (please don't abuse it)
Affiliate Marketing Specialist
New York, NY 10017